DESPERATE LIVES ON LISTERIA LANE

listeria-blue_-bell_CDC estimates an annual average of fifteen hundred (1,591) people in the U.S. develop systemic infection caused by food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes; there have been no cases attributed to drinking raw milk in the last twelve years.

Blue Bell stopped production and distribution of ice cream to 25 states in April 2015 after the discovery of listeria. Ten reported cases of listeria were linked to Blue Bell frozen treats and three of those sickened later died.

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In fact, Blue Bell knew it had a listeria problem two years earlier. The FDA released inspection reports showing that the company had found the bacteria in its Oklahoma plant, on surfaces such as floors and catwalks, on 17 occasions beginning in March 2013. Despite this, the FDA found, Blue Bell hadn’t followed up “to identify sanitation failures and possible food contamination,” taken proper steps to root out the problem, or informed the agency of its findings. FDA inspections of multiple plants, starting in March, found not only listeria but also condensation dripping from machinery into ice cream and ingredient tanks; poor storage and food-handling practices; and failures to clean equipment thoroughly.

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The most serious public health risk due to Listeria monocytogenes, comes from contaminated ready-to eat processed foods, particularly meats.

Make your own ice cream

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3 egg yolks (pastured eggs from the farmers’ market)

1/2 cup Canadian maple  syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

3 cups of raw cow’s milk heavy cream (the secret ingredient, raw cream, requires a visit to the farm)

1/2 cup walnuts finely chopped

Beat egg yolks and blend remaining ingredients. Pour into ice cream maker per instructions.